for this game

Cowboys edge Bucs in defensive slugfest

Oct 27, 2008 - 12:41 AM IRVING, Texas (Ticker) -- With his superstar quarterback on the sideline and his high-powered offense stuck in neutral, Dallas Cowboys coach Wade Phillips turned to his maligned defense for a much-needed win.

Brad Johnson threw a touchdown pass to Roy Williams just before halftime and the Cowboys made a late defensive stand Sunday to hold on for a crucial 13-9 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

A preseason favorite to contend for a championship, Dallas (5-3) limped into this contest after losing its last two games. The Cowboys' injury-plagued defense struggled mightily over that span, allowing a total of 64 points.

"Our defense certainly stepped up today," Phillips said. "I think they were frustrated that we haven't won in the last two weeks. Somebody asked me if this was a must win, but I think that all of them are must wins at this point."

Following last week's embarrassing 34-14 loss to the St. Louis Rams, Phillips opted to take a more active role in the Cowboys' defensive play-calling. The move seemed to work, as Dallas limited Tampa Bay (5-3) to just three field goals by Matt Bryant.

The nine points were the lowest single-game total allowed by the Cowboys since a 34-3 win over the New York Jets last November - a stretch of 13 games.

"We changed things but we have to stay within our system," Phillips said. "We have an aggressive defense and we wanted to stop their running game."

Although Phillips deflected attention away from himself, Cowboys linebacker Zach Thomas defended the embattled coach.

"He's got a gameplan, and his gameplan works," Thomas said. "There was nothing different today. He's taken a lot of heat, but it's up to the players."

One week after allowing Rams running back Steven Jackson to run for 160 yards and three touchdowns, the Cowboys held the Buccaneers to just 49 yards on the ground.

"I've got a chip on my shoulder when people run the football on us," defensive tackle Marcus Spears said. "To hold them says a lot about us. We forced them to run, so you build a wall and if they can't run through it, you're going to have a good day."

Making his second straight start in place of the injured Tony Romo, Johnson found Williams for a 2-yard score with one second remaining in the first half to give Dallas its first lead of the game at 10-6.

The scoring strike capped a 10-play, 59-yard drive in which the Cowboys converted two third downs courtesy of penalties on the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay committed four penalties on the drive.

"You want to take your shots when you have them," Johnson said. "We knew it was going to be an ugly game at times."

"There was one score today and it was the deciding play in the game," Bucs head coach Jon Gruden added. "I am very disappointed that we lost but at the same time, we've had eight solid outings and I have reason to believe we'll have eight more solid outings to finish the season."

The four-point cushion proved to be just enough for the Cowboys, who forced a pair of three-and-outs by the Bucs in the fourth quarter before barely holding on in the game's waning moments.

Led by gutsy veteran Jeff Garcia, Tampa Bay grinded out a 16-play drive down to Dallas' 18-yard line.

But after converting a pair of fourth downs earlier in the possession, the Bucs saw their comeback bid come to an end when Garcia's pass sailed well wide of Ike Hilliard on 4th-and-5 with 13 seconds remaining.

"It came down to the end," Dallas linebacker Bradie James said. "It was in our hands and we executed. It doesn't matter where on the field their offense gets the ball, you've got to stop them."

"They were doing a good job closing the pocket down and forcing me to get the ball out of my hands," Garcia said. "We had a great opportunity there at the end. It's just unfortunate that we didn't make the play that could have given us the game."

The late defensive stand ended what was a trying day for the Cowboys, who lost Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten (ribs) and cornerback Anthony Henry (thigh) to minor injuries.

Witten was taken to the locker room before halftime for X-rays, which came back negative.

"I aggravated my ribs," said Witten, who returned to the game in the second half but was ineffective. "We'll get some tests tonight and tomorrow. I just took a shot, but it sure doesn't feel good right now. I tried to doctor it up at halftime and come back but I just didn't have it in me."

Dallas played the entire game without a pair of defensive starters - cornerback Terence Newman (groin) and linebacker Anthony Spencer (hamstring). The Cowboys likely will be without Romo next week when they visit the Super Bowl champion New York Giants.

"(The win) definitely takes the edge off a little bit," Witten said. "We needed a win before heading to New York."

The 40-year-old Johnson struggled with his accuracy and was booed throughout the contest but finished 19-of-33 for 122 yards.

"We had some good drives and we did some good things, but we struggled," Johnson said. "I struggled at different times during the game."

The Cowboys relied heavily on running back Marion Barber, who ran for 71 yards on 25 carries and also hauled in six catches for 29 yards. Williams had two receptions for 10 yards in his second game since joining the Cowboys in a trade with the Detroit Lions.

Dallas, which finished with just 172 yards from scrimmage, seemed committed to getting the ball to talkative wide receiver Terrell Owens, who finished with five catches for just 33 yards.

Garcia completed 28-of-44 for 228 yards for the Buccaneers, who fell to 1-3 on the road this season.

"Our team did some good things but there were some key plays in the game that came back and hurt us and some key penalties that set us back," Gruden said. "We've got to score a touchdown. It was a tough week for us today."






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    Buccaneers 9, Cowboys 13  FinalOct 26 10:10 PM
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    Buccaneers 9, Cowboys 13  FinalOct 26 4:06 PM


  • NFL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    TAMPA BAY 6 0 3 0 9
    DALLAS 0 10 3 0 13 FINAL
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: TAM - FG, MATT BRYANT 36 YD, 4:03. Drive: 6
    plays, 29 yards in 2:58. Key plays:
    C Smith 20-yard punt return to
    Dallas 47; Garcia 12-yard pass to A
    Bryant to Dallas 27. TAMPA BAY 3-0
    TAM - FG,

    Oct 26 4:06 PM
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    RUWTbot Added 29 roots (Close Finish)

    Buccaneers 9, Cowboys 13  4th - 1:57Oct 26 3:52 PM
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    Buccaneers 9, Cowboys 13  4th - 4:15Oct 26 3:44 PM
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    Buccaneers 9, Cowboys 13  4th - 6:43Oct 26 3:43 PM
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    Buccaneers 9, Cowboys 13  4th - 6:43Oct 26 3:39 PM
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    Buccaneers 9, Cowboys 13  4th - 12:33Oct 26 3:29 PM


  • NFL
    END, 3RD QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    TAMPA BAY 6 0 3 9
    DALLAS 0 10 3 13 END, 3RD QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: TAM - FG, MATT BRYANT 36 YD, 4:03. Drive: 6
    plays, 29 yards in 2:58. Key plays:
    C Smith 20-yard punt return to
    Dallas 47; Garcia 12-yard pass to A
    Bryant to Dallas 27. TAMPA BAY 3-0
    TAM

    Oct 26 3:28 PM
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    Buccaneers 9, Cowboys 13  4th - 12:33Oct 26 3:27 PM


  • NFL
    END, 3RD QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    TAMPA BAY 6 0 3 9
    DALLAS 0 10 3 13 END, 3RD QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: TAM - FG, MATT BRYANT 36 YD, 4:03. Drive: 6
    plays, 29 yards in 2:58. Key plays:
    C Smith 20-yard punt return to
    Dallas 47; Garcia 12-yard pass to A
    Bryant to Dallas 27. TAMPA BAY 3-0
    TAM

    Oct 26 3:13 PM


  • NFL
    FG TAM
    MATT BRYANT 41 YD
    TAMPA BAY 9
    DALLAS 13 0:34 LEFT, 3RD QTR

    Buccaneers 9, Cowboys 13  3rd - 0:34Oct 26 3:10 PM


  • NFL
    FG DAL
    NICK FOLK 45 YD
    TAMPA BAY 6
    DALLAS 13 5:13 LEFT, 3RD QTR

    Buccaneers 6, Cowboys 13  3rd - 5:13Oct 26 3:00 PM


  • NFL
    HALFTIME 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    TAMPA BAY 6 0 6
    DALLAS 0 10 10 HALFTIME
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: TAM - FG, MATT BRYANT 36 YD, 4:03. Drive: 6
    plays, 29 yards in 2:58. Key plays:
    C Smith 20-yard punt return to
    Dallas 47; Garcia 12-yard pass to A
    Bryant to Dallas 27. TAMPA BAY 3-0
    TAM - F

    Oct 26 2:25 PM


  • NFL
    TD DAL
    ROY E WILLIAMS 2 YD PASS FROM BRAD JOHNSON
    (NICK FOLK KICK)
    TAMPA BAY 6
    DALLAS 10 0:01 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Buccaneers 6, Cowboys 10  2nd - 0:01Oct 26 2:24 PM
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    Buccaneers 6, Cowboys 3  2nd - 9:29Oct 26 1:56 PM


  • NFL
    FG DAL
    NICK FOLK 37 YD
    TAMPA BAY 6
    DALLAS 3 9:29 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Buccaneers 6, Cowboys 3  2nd - 9:29Oct 26 1:53 PM


  • NFL
    END, 1ST QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    TAMPA BAY 6 6
    DALLAS 0 0 END, 1ST QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: TAM - FG, MATT BRYANT 36 YD, 4:03. Drive: 6
    plays, 29 yards in 2:58. Key plays:
    C Smith 20-yard punt return to
    Dallas 47; Garcia 12-yard pass to A
    Bryant to Dallas 27. TAMPA BAY 3-0
    TAM

    Oct 26 1:40 PM


  • NFL
    FG TAM
    MATT BRYANT 36 YD
    TAMPA BAY 6
    DALLAS 0 1:09 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    Buccaneers 6, Cowboys 0  1st - 1:09Oct 26 1:36 PM


  • NFL
    FG TAM
    MATT BRYANT 36 YD
    TAMPA BAY 3
    DALLAS 0 10:57 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    Buccaneers 3, Cowboys 0  1st - 10:57Oct 26 1:09 PM
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